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How Do We Know that Iraq Tried to Assassinate President George H.W. Bush?

Former President George Bush visited Kuwait between April 14 and April 16, 1993, to commemorate the allied victory in the Persian Gulf War. Accompanying Bush were his wife, two of his sons, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, former Chief of Staff John Sununu, and former Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady.

In late-April 1993, the United States learned that terrorists had attempted to assassinate Bush during his visit to Kuwait. The Kuwaiti authorities arrested 17 persons suspected in the plot to kill Bush using explosives hidden in a Toyota Landcruiser. The Kuwaitis recovered the Landcruiser, which contained between 80 and 90 kilograms of plastic explosives connected to a detonator ( the Bush device or Bush explosive device ). The Kuwaitis also recovered ten cube-shaped plastic explosive devices with detonators (the cube-bombs ) from the Landcruiser. Some of the suspects reportedly confessed that the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS ) was behind the assassination attempt.

On April 29, 1993, CIA bomb technicians compared the Bush explosive device to two known Iraqi explosive devices found in different Middle-Eastern countries in 1990 and 1991 (the Middle-East devices ) . The technicians reported that the remote control firing mechanism in the Bush device was identical to those in the Middle-East devices. Additionally, the technicians reported that blasting caps from the Bush device appeared to be identical to those found in one of the Middle-East devices. The technicians later concluded that the circuit board from the Bush device also closely resembled circuit boards from the Middle-East devices.

In early-May 1993, the FBI sent personnel to Kuwait to interview the suspects and examine the physical evidence. FBI Special Agents, along with representatives of the Secret Service and State Department, interviewed 16 suspects, some more than once. Two of the suspects, Wali 'Abd Al-Hadi 'Abd Al-Hasan Al-Ghazali ( Al-Ghazali ) and Ra'd 'Abd Al-Amir 'Abbud Al-Asadi ( Al-Asadi ), admitted during the FBI interviews that they had participated in the plot at the direction of the IIS.

Explosives examiner Jordan also traveled to Kuwait in May 1993 to examine the Bush device. Jordan examined the main charge, which was hidden in three panels in the Landcruiser and was capable of being detonated by remote control, a timing device, or a push-pull suicide switch. Jordan compared the Bush device to photographs of the Middle-East devices, as well as other devices, and concluded that the same person or persons manufactured the Bush device and one of the Middle-East devices, and that a connection existed between persons responsible for the Bush device and several other devices, including the other Middle-East device. Jordan reported these conclusions in a May 11, 1993 Laboratory report.

Jordan then returned to Washington, D.C., and delivered samples of the explosives from the Bush device to Whitehurst. Whitehurst analyzed the explosive from the main charge and concluded that the substance was approximately 96% RDX, 3% polyvinyl-isobutyl ether binder, and 1% hydrocarbon oil. As for samples from the cube-bombs, Whitehurst concluded that the explosive was consistent with an explosive containing RDX bound with a cross-linked phenoxy or epoxy binder containing Sudan I dye. Whitehurst reported these findings in his June 7, 1993, dictation.

Shortly thereafter, Jordan returned to the Middle-East to conduct further examinations of the Bush device and the Middle-East devices. Based on these examinations, Jordan reported significant consistencies in the selection of individual components and alterations to manufactured items in all of the devices. Jordan concluded that the similarities represented signature characteristics. He further reported that the same person or persons of close association constructed the remote control fuzing systems and electronic timing mechanisms used in all of these devices. Jordan also reported that a second person or persons of close association were responsible for adding wiring and components to the Bush device and one of the Middle-East devices, enabling those devices to be incorporated in vehicles. Jordan reported these conclusions in his June 18, 1993, Laboratory report, in which he also summarized parts of Whitehurst's June 7, 1993, dictation.

On June 2, 1993, representatives of the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and others in the Department of Justice (DOJ) discussed the results of their investigations with representatives of the Clinton Administration. Three weeks later, the DOJ and CIA reported their conclusions. The DOJ and CIA reported that it was highly likely that the Iraqi Government originated the plot and more than likely that Bush was the target. Additionally, based on past Iraqi methods and other sources of intelligence, the CIA independently reported that there was a strong case that Saddam Hussein directed the plot against Bush.

On June 26, 1993, the United States launched a cruise missile attack against a building housing the IIS in Baghdad in retaliation for the assassination attempt on former President Bush. According to news reports, the attack killed between six and eight persons and injured approximately 12 others. On June 27, 1993, Madeleine Albright, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, addressed an emergency session of the Security Council and provided evidence to support the attack on the IIS facility.